What do school students really want to know about startups?
Startups are growing in Australia, but what’s it all about and how do you get started in the world of entrepreneurship? Aaron Ngan is the CEO of JA Australia, a UTS startup founder, and a facilitator at Find my Spark, a special interactive day for school students at this year’s Spark Festival that focuses on building entrepreneurial skills and mindset. Aaron is highly experienced in leading workshops with young people and answers some of the big questions he gets from high school students about startups.
Are startups and entrepreneurship really a thing I should think about for my career?
You bet! The world is moving faster and faster and companies of all shapes and sizes are looking to be more innovative so that they can get and stay ahead. By learning startup and entrepreneurial skills, you will be able to adapt to this modern workplace and even create your own future by running a business for yourself someday.
Hang on, what actually is a startup?
In a nutshell, a startup is an organisation or business set up to test an idea or solution and bring that to market. Like any business, there’s no guarantee of success. But this is a hugely exciting time to give your idea a go or get involved with startups that are trying to solve big problems.
How hard is it to start a startup?
Even though it might seem impossible to create the next Facebook, Uber, or Instagram, the process of getting started is extremely straightforward and there are now more resources than ever to help you get started.
I always say the very first thing you should do is ask yourself: Who is my main customer and what is their biggest problem? Make sure you spend a lot of time talking to people and really getting to the bottom of this. Don’t just jump straight to the most obvious solution. Listening, observing and really understanding your customer will pay off in the long run.
My parents really don't get startups, what should I say?
I get this question a lot! You can explain that startups and entrepreneurship are a way of testing out ideas and learning skills that will help problem solve in any area of your life and will be relevant to whatever career path you choose. Most entrepreneurial processes are about a deep understanding of the people who will be your customers, and getting extremely curious about the challenges and problems that they experience.
If they’re still wondering what it’s all about, then get them to listen to this ABC radio interview with Alex McCauley, CEO of StartupAus. As Alex says, startups are not about hipsters in cafes in Surry Hills building business on their laptops, but more about young, high-growth companies turning great ideas into world-class businesses.
Are startups only about coding and techie stuff?
Tech is cool, and I love my tech! But while coding and tech are extremely popular, startups can be about anything. They ultimately start with a problem that is worth solving for a large enough group of people. Tech skills and knowing how to code are a massive bonus as this will let you build out the parts of your business that you need to reach more customers and scale.
What do I need to study to be an entrepreneur?
There are no degrees that guarantee that you will become an entrepreneur. Rather, study something that you are passionate about and where you can create the possibility of a big impact on society. Then, while you do that, go out and explore and experiment as much as possible. Intern with a startup, join a startup society on campus such as UTS Startups, check out local startup Meetups or online communities. There are also loads of online courses on entrepreneurship and podcasts dedicated to startups and the journey of startup founders.
I’d also suggest finding practical ways to develop new skills and to get involved with the communities to share these ideas. But most importantly, have confidence and believe in yourself. You can be a startup founder!